The convergence of the public and private sphere | EUJ 203

Instructor: Vassilis Vamvakas

Course Description

The central issue of this course is the theoretical and genealogical research of the relation between the public and private sphere throughout modernity. Trying to surpass critically the absolute distinction that certain aspects of social theory see between them, we concentrate on the certain approaches of sociology and cultural studies that try to interpret without moralizing their reciprocal relation during the post-modern era.


Course Objectives

  • Understanding the important shift in determining public sphere in the modern world.
  • Awareness of the basic structures-institutions that have been theorized as representative of the public and private sphere.
  • Understand the multiple fields and ways in which the modern distinction between private and public has been less obvious and desirable.
  • Explore various representations of the mass media concerning the dialectical confusion between public and private sphere (consumerism, passionate crimes, political scandals, autobiography in social media, pornography and the multiple uses of cameras in everyday life).


Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze critically the changes that the mixture of private and public symbolism has introduced.
  2. Define the main structures and agents of public and private spheres in western culture and distinguish the main theories about them
  3. Investigate the role that the modern media have in practices of narcissism, individualization, cultural distinction
  4. Explore the social and cultural consequences that democratization of style and desire as well as media convergence caused in public discourse


Class/Learning activities

Lectures, group work, in-class presentations, literature study, written assignments.



Type of work Description Hours
Lectures Thirteen 3-hours lectures 39
Independent study Study of compulsory and optional literature 40-45
In Class presentation Presentation of main contemporary theories in the field 20-25
Research Search and analyze media discourses concerning public and private issues 35-40
Written assignments Essay (5000 words) 120-140
Total workload 254-289



Type of assessment Learning outcome Impact on final grade Date of assessment
Participation in group work and discussion 1-2 20% Regularly
In Class presentation 1-2 30% 8th-12th week
Written assignment (essay) 1-4 50% 14th week


Required Reading

Andrejevic, M. Reality TV. The work of being watched, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004

Bauman, Z. Postmodernity and It Discontents, PolityPres ,1997

Beck, U. and E. Beck-Gernsheim, Individualization: Institutionalized Individualism and its Social and Political Consequences, Sage, London, 2002.

Creed, Β., Media matrix: sexing the new reality, Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2003

Crossley, N,   Roberts J. (Eds), After Habermas: New Perspectives on the Public Sphere, Blackwell, 2004

Curran J., Morley D., Walkerdine V., Cultural studies and communications, Arnold, London, NY, 1996

Foucault, M. Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, New York: Random House, 1975

Giddens, A, Modernity and Self-Identity, Polity Press, 1991

Goffman, E. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1959) (London: Allen Lane, 1969).

Habermas, J. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a category of Bourgeois Society, Polity, Cambridge, 1962

Hartley J., Popular reality. Journalism, modernity, popular culture, Λονδίνο, 1996.

Jenkins, H. Convergence Culture. New York University Press, 2006

Lasch, L. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations (Norton, 1979)

Lipovetsky, G., The Empire of fashion. Dressing modern democracy, Princeton university press, New Jersey, 1994

McNair, B., Mediated sex. Pornography and postmodern culture, Arnold, London, 1996

Meyrowitz, J., “No sense of place: the impact of electronic media on social behavior”, στο Hugh  MacKay & Tim O’ Sullivan (επιμ.) The Media Reader: continuity and transformation, σσ. 99-120

Myers G., Discourse of blogs and wikis, Continuum, Λονδίνο-ΝΥ, 2010

Papacharissi, Z. (ed), A Networked Self Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites, Routledge, 2010

Sennett, R. The fall of the public man, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977

Tompson, T., Political Scandal: Power and Visibility in the Media Age, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2000

Williams R., Television, Routledge, Λονδίνο-ΝΥ, 1974

Print Friendly, PDF & Email